With the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac Games has proven that it was the right studio for the job. And you can tell as you play it: Insomniac displays an intimate understanding of the character through the story, as well as the combat and web-slinging mechanics. It’s not often that a studio gets a superhero game right, but when it does, it’s fantasy wish-fulfilment of the highest order.
But all of this joy for Spider-Man has us eager for the next big game that’ll do justice to another iconic comic book superhero. Marvel Games has acknowledged several times in the past that it’s always looking for new studios to partner with to adapt its properties into games, and with the success of Spider-Man, it’s probably looking to do more. And we’re sure the owners of other big superhero properties are likely doing the same.
Naturally, this has us thinking about all the superhero games that we want and the studios we’d love to make them. After all, there are hundreds of comic book characters out there who deserve games, but have yet to get one that does them justice.
We’ve compiled our ideas, and we’ll admit that the folks in our office have a bit of a bias towards Marvel, but you’ll find a few surprise concepts based on obscure superheroes as you click ahead.
In the meantime, which game studio would you put in charge of your favorite superhero? Let us know in the comments below!
Wolverine Game By The Yakuza Developers
Wolverine has had a rather mixed offering of games over the years. While some have come close to capturing the spirit of this scrappy mutant, many attempts have fallen flat. As a Wolverine fan, I’d like to see a game based on my favorite story featuring the character, his first mini-series written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller. Set in Japan, the series revolves around Wolverine fighting to reclaim his honor after being humiliated by the criminal father of his beloved, Mariko Yashida.
Wolverine often gets criticized for being a one-dimensional character, but Claremont’s decision to compare him to a ronin gave him more nuance and depth. If it’s one thing that every Wolverine game has failed to do, it’s placing the character in a high-stakes emotional story. After all, there isn’t much that can pose a meaningful threat to Wolverine due to his self-healing ability and adamantium claws. In fact, most Wolverine games have lacked self-awareness for how cheesy and overpowered he is.
If there’s one studio that’s great at handling serious melodrama with cheesy, over-the-top violence, it’s the studio behind the cult favorite Yakuza series. So, who better to handle a Wolverine game than them? I can easily see the Yakuza devs taking what made that Wolverine mini-series so good and pushing it into entirely new directions. It wouldn’t be too tough for them to adapt the character either, given the fact Wolverine speaks fluent Japanese and could easily fit into the worlds they typically create.
With the Yakuza studio’s upcoming Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, it certainly seems like they’re interested in making games based on popular intellectual properties. It would be an unusual and unorthodox move for Marvel to tap on the studio to make a Wolverine game, but it’s one that I think would fit the character the best. — Matt Espineli.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl By Double Fine
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is hands down, one of Marvel’s finest books right now. Penned by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics, it’s genuinely and consistently funny, filled with heart and wholesome lessons to be learned. Squirrel Girl is more than a capable fighter (she’s canonically beaten up the entire Marvel Universe, after all) but her typical course of action when it comes to stopping villains is just like, talking and empathizing with them, explaining situations and causing them to see the error of their ways. She’s befriended Galactus, Kraven, Loki, Hydra robot Brain Drain, and even dated a Sentinel.
Her alter ego, Doreen Green, is also an incredibly capable computer science student, a skill which comes in hand for world-saving situations more often than you’d think–she taught Count Nefaria how to count to ten on one hand using binary language, for gosh sakes.
The character’s propensity for comedy, conversation, and off-the-wall situations would be perfect for an adventure born from Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine, whose games always have a strong sense of levity and charm no matter what the genre, and permeate throughout everything–from the dialogue, to the world, to flavour text. Some Pikmin-like squirrel management comes to mind as a nice mechanic, but honestly, a narrative adventure game with branching paths would be perfect for the style of heroism that Squirrel Girl succeeds at (it’s also a proven formula! Check out the choose-your-own-adventure issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7). — Edmond Tran
Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) By Keita Takahashi
Kamala Khan is one of Marvel’s most interesting contemporary heroes. As a Pakistani-American teen based in Jersey City, her inherent life situation gives her enough problems. But after getting hit with the Terrigen Mist and getting inhuman powers, she assumes the former mantle of her idol, Captain Marvel, and things get even more complicated in the way only the best teenage superhero stories can.
But more importantly, her skills revolve around her ability to EMBIGGEN! That is, growing, shrinking, and stretching her body in all sorts of manners to physically overwhelm her foes. You know who’s made some great games about growing, shrinking, and stretching? Keita Takahashi of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby fame.
That’s the link. That’s all I’ve got. I’m sure it’ll be good. Marvel, I’ll text you my bank details. — Edmond Tran
Marvel: Civil War By NetherRealm Studios
While the issue of an overall lack of quality Marvel games is the real crime here, it’s hard to believe that with the amount of Marvel characters in the MCU alone, no one has stepped up to create a mano-a-mano fighter for modern consoles. You wouldn’t even need to think of an excuse or a new storyline for pitting all these characters against each other, because Marvel already has one!
The Civil War storyline from the films, while impactful in its own universe, was nothing compared to the ripple effect the original series had to Marvel Comics as a whole. While I can appreciate the absurdity and campiness of a game like Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, imagine the narrative quality of the writing and cinematic cutscenes of Injustice, paired with the Civil War storyline which has yet to be faithfully recreated in popular entertainment (I’m looking at you, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2). And that’s before I’ve even brought up the fighting mechanics the studio is renowned for!
With Disney ever present in licensing, I doubt we’re ever going to see The Punisher perform a fatality, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to see a “Heroic Brutality” from Dr. Strange, or what Rocket Raccoon looks like after a “Babality”. — Nick Sherman
Judge Dredd By MachineGames
2012’s Dredd, the movie starring Karl Urban, is one of my favorite action flicks, and when I’m not waiting impatiently on news of a follow-up, I’m thinking about how awesome a Judge Dredd game could be if handled by the right developer. I always thought Starbreeze Studios would be a great fit, with their history of creating immersive first-person shooters that make a point of putting you into that world. However, with many of their staff leaving and the studio transitioning into more of a publisher role, I’d have to go with the studio where some of those talented developers went: MachineGames, which has carried on the first-person legacy with the Wolfenstein series.
The most recent Dredd movie is already structured like a video game. He deals with an easy-peesy crook, where we learn about his ability-changing, swiss-army-knife gun, The Lawgiver–let’s call that the tutorial. We’re then introduced to his new partner, a telepathic rookie, before going on to where the meat of the movie takes place: the crime-infested, slum tower of Peach Trees. Judge Dredd slowly makes his way up the tower as he fights junkies, crooks, and other baddies (sometimes in slow-motion, which yes, is explained in the story).
All of this is prime material for a video game. MachineGames is known for its exhilarating first-person shooting that’s housed with beautifully crafted cutscenes, compelling stories, and interesting characters. Dredd isn’t the most complex character, but there are plenty of captivating moments, both humorous and earnest, in between the flying bullets–things the Wolfenstein games have excelled at. If anyone could make a Judge Dredd game with both the high-intensity action and engaging storytelling, it would absolutely be MachineGames. — Mat Paget
Fantastic Four By Epic Games
The Fantastic Four were Marvel’s first superhero team, and I don’t need to explain how each member brings a unique set of powers to the table. But I do need to ask a question: how many Metroidvanias are based on the idea of switching characters? Rather than unlock, say, a grappling hook, you could instead rescue Mr. Fantastic and then use his stretching abilities to literally reach new parts of the map. Sue Storm could use her invisibility to sneak past guards and cameras.
Now picture Epic Games’ Shadow Complex, but instead of being set in a massive underground military base, it’s an elaborate hideout in which Dr. Doom has trapped his nemeses. With each hero you rescue, you can access new parts of the hideout and complete various challenges. Remember the Sue Storm invisibility thing? Shadow Complex literally has cameras that lock doors if they spot you.
If four characters feels limited, Epic could explore adding Fantastic Four-adjacent heroes to the game, like the Inhumans. The team has seen plenty of temporary members over the years too–even Spider-Man joined up at one point–so there are many possibilities for more heroes to unlock. — Tony Wilson
Task Force X / Suicide Squad By BioWare
Task Force X is created and controlled by Amanda Waller, a ruthless government official who stops at nothing to keep America safe from foreign powers. The team performs secret black ops missions, and is usually entirely composed of the criminals that the Justice League puts away.
Task Force X is nicknamed the Suicide Squad because the team’s missions are always exceptionally dangerous and Waller inserts bombs into the necks of every squad member, so she can blow off the head of anyone who disobeys her. The convicts have no say in whether they accept a particular assignment or not, but each successful mission earns a year off the sentence of every surviving member.
Let BioWare make a Suicide Squad game. You’d play the part of a soldier that Amanda assigns to watch the squad for her while in the field. You’d start out with Deadshot and Harley Quinn on your team, each of which would have their unique abilities that you’d direct them to use. Between missions, Waller would order you visit the cells of other criminals, like Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, Enchantress, and Poison Ivy, to slowly build a larger team, similar to the Mass Effect games.
The major caveat in this game would be building rapport with the criminals you’d recruit. You’d need to talk to them between missions, and then plan accordingly based on what you learned. Forcing June Moone to become Enchantress again and again might ultimately drive her to depression and suicidal thoughts. Refusing to deliver Deadshot’s letters to his daughter might foster a dangerous resentment that ends with him betraying you. If any convicts get too out of line, then Waller will kill them and you’ll lose that squadmate forever. — Jordan Ramee
Star Power By Hello Games
After spying a strange star, astronomer Danica Maris is gifted with super powers that allow her to transform into Star Power, a Star Powered Sentinel. Danica is a brilliant scientist and creative problem solver, and as Star Power she can fly, breathe in space, and travel at near light speed. She also has enhanced strength and durability, as well as a sentient computerized assistant–that she nicknames Mitch–who helps her decipher alien languages and navigate between different solar systems.
Hello Games could create an incredible Star Power video game. Although Danica does occasionally kick some major butt, she’s an explorer first so she doesn’t necessarily need something as combat heavy as an action-RPG. Danica would rather use her powers to see the galaxy and figure out the mystery behind the disappearance of the other Star Powered Sentinels. Star Power the game wouldn’t need as many planets as No Man’s Sky, and Hello Games could use those extra resources to craft a few more challenging puzzles that you’d need to solve as you explored.
You’d fly around from planet to planet, needing to replenish your star energy to make longer jumps to other systems. The game would never tell you where you’d need to go next, and instead hint at a destination you’d need to find. You’d have the power to punch through an asteroid or blast a hole in a mountain, but you’d need to restrain yourself from acting out on the people you’d meet. You’re a symbol of hope and peace after all. Hello Games could throw in some humorous radio conversations between Danica and her friends–like Shi, Grex, and Kaylo–and add a few aerial dog fights with Danica’s enemies–like Black Hole Bill and the Void Angels–to create a little variety to space travel. — Jordan Ramee
Captain America By Naughty Dog
It’s quite an achievement that Marvel Studios has been able to make Captain America one of the most likable superheroes in its roster. After all, the character has often been seen as a boy scout by mainstream media due to his WWII-era roots. Across all Marvel Studios’ output, Cap’s films rank among its most universally praised, offering a slick display of drama, action, and political intrigue. Given Captain America’s more recent popularity, a game starring the super soldier would be a no brainer, but who could Marvel get to handle his rich history of story arcs and characters?
Naughty Dog would be the best fit for Cap. Given their expertise in storytelling, the studio definitely has the chops to adhere to the quality of Cap’s cinematic offerings, while also being able to formulate their own message with the character. In the comics, Cap’s stories tends to fall more on the serious side, often dealing with political thriller plots that are packed with intriguing espionage and superhero action. Underlying the comic book heroism are themes that offer grander critiques on contemporary politics and world issues. But the best Cap stories have focused on his inner struggles with his place in the world, as well his responsibilities as a soldier. He often has to make tough decisions, some of which aren’t the most heroic. Naughty Dog are masters of characterization, so they’d easily be at home with the more complex issues that Cap faces.
At the same time, there’s a goofier James Bond-like super spy side to Cap that Naughty Dog could adapt well given its work on the more light-hearted Uncharted series. Imagine what one of their over-the-top action set pieces would look like if they had Cap’s eccentric supervillains and all the ricocheting antics of his vibranium shield. It would be amazing! And their penchant for great feeling gameplay mechanics would surely bode well for the biggest challenge of making a Captain America game: shield combat mechanics.
As a huge Captain America fan, it would be a dream for Marvel and Naughty Dog to make a superhero game based on him. Heck, a Captain America game in general that hits all the notes the movies do and more would be a dream come true. But let’s be real, what I really want is this game’s sequel: a Bucky Cap/Winter Soldier game. Make it happen, Marvel! — Matt Espineli